Alaska job losses continue as recession enters third year

May employment down 2,000 from last year; 11,800 from May 2015

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped a statistically insignificant 0.1 percent between April and May, according to preliminary figures from the Alaska Department of Labor, and job losses are continuing as a statewide recession enters its third year.

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in May, a slight improvement from 7.3 percent. The comparable national rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest it has been since the late 1960s.

Karinne Wiebold, an economist with the Department of Labor (which produces the monthly unemployment report), said the decline “is not statistically significant and is preliminary, so it may be revised.”

Alaska employment is heavily seasonal, with peaks in the summer and dips in the winter. The seasonally adjusted rate smoothes those swings to reveal actual trends.

Wiebold said a better indicator of Alaska’s economy are the number of jobs in the state.

According to the new figures, 333,300 people were employed in Alaska in May 2018. That’s down 2,000 jobs from May 2017 and 11,800 from May 2015, the pre-recession peak.

Southeast Alaska is down about 400 jobs from a year ago, Wiebold said.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.